Skip to Main Content

Cover Story

Advertisement
Advertise Here
August 15, 2011
Volume 89, Number 33
Web Exclusive

Biofuels: An Ethical Framework

Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay

  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Latest News



October 28, 2011

Speedy Homemade-Explosive Detector

Forensic Chemistry: A new method could increase the number of explosives detected by airport screeners.

Solar Panel Makers Cry Foul

Trade: U.S. companies complain of market dumping by China.

Novartis To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Layoffs follow similar moves by Amgen, AstraZeneca.

Nations Break Impasse On Waste

Environment: Ban to halt export of hazardous waste to developing world.

New Leader For Lawrence Livermore

Penrose (Parney) Albright will direct DOE national lab.

Hair Reveals Source Of People's Exposure To Mercury

Toxic Exposure: Mercury isotopes in human hair illuminate dietary and industrial sources.

Why The Long Fat?

Cancer Biochemistry: Mass spectrometry follows the metabolism of very long fatty acids in cancer cells.

Text Size A A

Five principles should govern the ethical production of biofuels, according to a report released in April by the the U.K.-based think tank Nuffield Council on Bioethics (NCB):

1. Biofuels should not be produced at the cost of people’s fundamental rights.

2. Biofuel production should be environmentally sustainable and not cause biodiversity losses, water overconsumption, and pesticide and fertilizer pollution.

3. Biofuels should reduce total greenhouse gas emissions during the entire lifecycle of their various sources.

4. Biofuel production must recognize the rights of people to just reward, including adequate payment for labor and allotment of intellectual property to deserving parties.

5. The costs and benefits of biofuels—financial, environmental, political, or social—must be equally distributed among people.

The principles emerged from NCB’s analysis of biofuel production after numerous stories emerged in the media and in the scientific literature charging that biofuels are not fulfilling their promises to society: They didn’t really reduce greenhouse gas emissions and appeared to have negative effects on food security, the environment, and the rights of farmers and landholders in developing countries.

Realizing that the pros and cons of biofuels were often discussed in a piecemeal fashion, NCB took it upon itself to do an integrated analysis of all the ethical concerns of biofuel production and come up with recommendations on how to better set government policies to guide biofuel production.

The final report, available at www.nuffieldbioethics.org/biofuels-0, includes an ethical framework with five principles that policymakers can use to evaluate biofuel technologies and guide policy-making. Alena Buyx, the assistant director of the secretariat at NCB, and Joyce Tait, the chair of NCB’s working party on biofuels, briefly explained the five principles for ethical biofuel production in a Science article (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206064).

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!